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There are a select number of action franchises that since their initial inception have withstood the test of time. Rambo, Die Hard, and more have gone through decades of social change, yet its legacy as pure adrenaline fuelled entertainment lives on. One of these franchises is Predator. Its famed 1987 debut starred Arnold Schwarzenegger in the fight of his life against an unknown foe in the Central American jungle, and grossed nearly 100 million dollars on a modest 15 million dollar budget. Since then, the Predator has been featured in four big screen adventures. The films have varied in success and quality, but one core facet has remained constant.
All of the films follow a straightforward structure of a gang of humans out of their element, with an unseen foe hunting them. That is one of the core elements of this series, to pit man against an enemy they haven’t encountered before to see whether they are able to defeat one of the toughest hunters in the universe. However, the problem with having such a well established franchise formula is that there’s not a lot of room for surprise within that structure.
The first issue in this new mini-series introduces us to a squad in the United States Colonial Marines, tasked with investigating a claim that a rival company is illegally excavating resources from a planet belonging to the Weyland-Yutani corporation. Through the first half of the issue we get to know these warriors a bit, but most character is given to the squad leader and W-Y’s representative on the ship.
As the issue passes the halfway mark, the action shifts as they begin to explore the planet’s forest filled surface. They stumble upon a survivor, who tells them to escape while they can, but it’s too late as in the subsequent pages two predators proceed to slaughter a handful of marines, ending with a splash page of the two hunters standing above the bodies of the fallen soldiers.
This follows the structure of almost every other Predator title to date, and its predictability means that you can quite accurately guess what happens in the issue. It is important to acknowledge that what’s being shown is entertaining, and it’s beautifully drawn by Brian Albert Thies with great colours by Rain Beredo. However, the script by Dan Abnett lacks any tension, or element of suspense. While there are hints at an existing story to be told in the subsequent issues, what’s on offer for this issue is rather by-the-numbers fanfare. It almost feels nostalgic as you relieve the same horrors from the movies, though sadly without any of the emotional punch of the original cinematic adventure.
Overall, Predator: Life and Death #1 offers an entertaining entry into the action franchise. The art is visually pleasing, and the colours do a fantastic job at making the world the characters live in feel alive. Unfortunately, the story that’s presented follows the pre-established franchise formula for the Predator series, and lacks any sentiment of creativity or originality. It is a franchise deserving of a fresh spin, but until then it is at least comforting to know that the tried and true formula still works in its own right.
Predator: Life and Death #1 earns a passable 6 out of 10.